Baronet fails to stop estranged mother selling family silver

A dispute which has divided one of Britain's oldest families reached a bitter climax yesterday with the sale of the entire contents of a stately home.

More than 800 lots acquired over half a millennium, including the most complete collection of family portraiture in Anglo-Irish history, were sold at auction on the orders of dowager Lady Marion Langham against the express wishes of her son, the 16th baronet, Sir John.

The two fell out in a row over a glasshouse on the estate of Tempo Manor, near Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

In an attempt to escape inheritance tax, Sir John's father, Sir James Langham, who died three years ago, had gifted the contents of the Victorian manor house to his estranged wife Lady Marion, 64, who lives in a bungalow in the grounds with her French partner. The estate itself went to his eldest son who lives in the six-bedroom manor with his wife Lady Sarah and their family. Mother and son are no longer on speaking terms and have become embroiled in a public slanging match. Both attended the sale at Slane Castle, Co Dublin, yesterday.

Sir John, who is desperate to keep the collection of paintings, furniture, royal and botanical ephemera together, was trying to buy back some of the pieces. He paid €18,360 (£12,500) for a 19th century portrait by John James Masquerier of his ancestor Sir James Hay Langham. Estimates of the value of the sale reached in excess of €1.5m.

The star of the auction was a portrait of Sir James Langham, the 7th baronet, by the 18th century painter Francis Cotes which trebled its estimate to fetch €300,000. It was bought by Richard Green, a Bond Street art dealer.

Sir John, 43, a web designer, has been quoted as saying he will not speak to his mother for "as long as a I live". The family moved to the 300-acre estate set among woodland and rivers in Co Fermanagh 150 years ago, after selling the family seat of Cottesbrooke Hall in Northamptonshire - which was said to be the inspiration for Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.

The family fortune was earned by the original Sir John who dominated the spice trade and was an ally of Charles II during the Restoration.

A message on the Tempo Manor website yesterday revealed the depth of the rancour: "We are saddened to report that Marion Lady Langham has now removed the contents of Tempo Manor for auction. As custodian of the contents, she feels constrained, for personal financial reasons, to sell these historic family portraits and other artefacts ... These family treasures have been held in trust for generations; their removal means that, tragically, this generation will be the last to enjoy them in their entirety."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable